Moist Strawberry Topped Citrus Cake

Posted by on Jun 26, 2012 in Recipe | 1 comment

Hello everyone! Recently Taiwan has been raining cats and dogs like nobody’s business and our house has already accumulated three doggies! It’s preposterous. Lots of rain=no going out=eating at home. Thus, my stomach is taking a much needed break today. In the meantime, here’s a recipe for a yummy citrus cake that I whipped up during the holidays way back when. It’s too good to neglect posting about it (especially when it pretty much disappeared during dessert even after the family was full to their necks with food) so here it is! Ingredients (for 1 cake. double the amount for 2 cakes, and you can layer them to create a two-tiered cake!) Cake (350 degrees, 40-45 minutes) 6 tbs unsalted butter, room temperature 1 cup sugar (I used a bit less since my family never likes things too sweet!) 2 extra large eggs, room temperature 3/8 cup sour cream, room temperature 1/4 tsp grated lemon zest 1/4 tsp grated orange zest 1/4 tsp vanilla extract 1 cup all purpose flour 1/8 cup cornstarch 1/4 tsp kosher salt 1/2 tsp baking soda Whipping/Topping 1/2 cup (1/4 pint) heavy cream, chilled 1 1/2 tbs sugar 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract 1/2 pint fresh strawberries Despite all the ingredients, this cake is very easy to make! Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. First start off by creaming the butter and sugar with a handy dandy electronic mixer if you have one until fluffy. If your butter is still cold, you can microwave it for 10 seconds to soften it up, this makes creaming it later extremely quick. Then add the eggs one at a time to the mixture, making sure each is incorporated fully before adding the next. Then add the sour cream, mix fully,zest, mix fully, and finally vanilla. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking soda together. Using a whisk helps to break up clumps! Then, add the dry mixture slowly to the wet mixture until you have your cake batter completed! Now simply pour into your cake pan and pop in oven for 40-45 minutes. While it’s baking, you can get started on the whippings. Here’s how to make simple yet fresh and delicious whipped cream. Homemade whipped cream on a cake really makes a big difference. Simply pour the heavy cream and vanilla extract together in a large bowl. Then, take your electronic mixer and whip it like crazy until beautiful snowy peaks form. If the cake is already sweet, you might try adding less sugar and vanilla extract. Then you can fill up a decorating bag (or a plastic ziplock bag and cut a hole in the corner if you’re desperate) to decorate your cake. Chop up strawberries or use them whole, however you want to decorate your cake! When the cake is ready make sure to LET IT COOL before decorating otherwise you will end up with a hot mess. Like a girl with mascara running down her face! ^_^ Hope you guys enjoy this recipe, if you decide to try it please let me know what you think or if you have suggestions to tweak it into a more marvelous creation! Look forward to more Taiwan related posts soon ;) – Jas                                                             Photographs taken and provided by Jasmine...

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Pumpkin Cheesecake and Tiramisu

Posted by on Dec 7, 2010 in Recipe | 4 comments

While the entrée may be dubbed the star of the meal, we all know in our heart of hearts that dessert is what we’re secretly waiting for. Not only is a sweet treat looked forward to by many, but it also makes a nice excuse to gather round with a cup of hot coffee/tea in hand to help settle the meal with some pleasant chatter. Also, let’s keep in mind that dessert is the last impression guests leave with! So let’s make it special. Here are two simple recipes that are quick enough to make that you should be able to easily squeeze it in your busy schedule and whip it up without a problem. Pumpkin Cheesecake Ingredients: For the crust – 1 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs 3 tbsp brown sugar 1 tsp ground cinnamon 1 stick melted butter For the filling – 3 (8 0z) packages cream cheese 1 (15 oz) can pureed pumpkin 3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk 1/4 cup sour cream 1 1/2 cup sugar 1 tsp ground cinnamon 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg 2 tbsp all purpose flour 1 tsp vanilla extract Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. For the crust: Combine the crumbs, sugar, and cinnamon in a bowl. Add the melted butter and mix evenly so that all of the crumbs are moist and coated. Press down firmly into a 9-inch springform pan. I use the bottom of a measuring cup and spread out so that the crust climbs up the sides of the pan as well. For the filling: Beat the cream cheese until it’s smooth. Add the pumpkin puree, eggs and egg yolk, sour cream, sugar and spices. Mix well, then add the flour and vanilla. Make sure everything is incorporated evenly before pouring the batter into the crust. Spread out evenly and bake for 1 hour. Let cool for a few minutes before sliding a knife around the edge of the crust to separate it from the pan. This keeps the pie from staying nicely shaped while cooling, otherwise it may end up breaking as it cools. Cover in plastic wrap and cool for at least 4 hours before serving.   Tiramisu Ingredients: 6 egg yolks 3 tbsp sugar 1 lb mascarpone cheese 1 1/2 cup strong espresso (cooled) 2 tsp dark rum 24 packaged ladyfingers unsweetened cocoa, ground cinnamon, fruit (optional) Beat the egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until it’s thick and pale. Add the mascarpone cheese and mix until smooth. Add 1 tbsp of espresso and combine thoroughly. Add the remaining espresso in a separate dish with the rum. Dip each lady finger into the espresso on both sides. You’ll want to dip and turn quickly since the ladyfingers will get soggy and start falling apart. Place the soaked ladyfinger on the bottom of your preferred serving dish and start layering the bottom of the dish. Feel free to break them in half if needed. Spread an even layer of the mascarpone mixture over the lady fingers before adding yet another layer of ladyfingers on top. Repeat as many times as you’d like (or are able to). Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (lasts up to 8 hours). Before serving, powder the top with unsweetened cocoa powder, ground cinnamon, and decorate with your preferred fruit. Enjoy~! ~ AJ ~ Photographs taken and provided by AnnMarie...

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Hot Springs – bouncing? No. Hot? Oh yes.

Posted by on Sep 30, 2010 in Itadakimasu Japan! | 2 comments

Considering how Japan is technically one giant volcano, dipping into one of the many hot springs is a must. Although it may seem strange and even embarrassing at first, you quickly realize that it doesn’t matter if you’re walking around butt naked in a room full of strangers because you’re too busy soaking and relaxing. A trip to these natural wonders does wonders to your skin and plenty of other health benefits as well. Unfortunately, I’m not an expert in this field and this is a food blog and so…what else can a hot spring do? Well, besides the obvious answer of bathing…eggs! An onsen (hot spring) tamago (egg) is literally an egg that has been slowly cooked in the hot waters of a natural hot spring. At first I thought these eggs were either hard boiled or raw…in fact, since I had no idea what they were and there was no one around to ask, I spent a good five minutes just staking out the table with the bucket of eggs to wait and watch as someone else served one to themselves. (I did a lot of this while in Japan…pretty obvious I’m a tourist!) Upon cracking the egg open I was surprised to find that it only seemed to be half-cooked. It certainly wasn’t hard-boiled and it couldn’t even be considered soft-boiled, if anything it looked very much like a poached egg – just much more watery. However, there was no mistaking that it was fully cooked. The whites were almost like that of a delicate custard while the yolk was somewhat firm despite its color and creamy texture being akin to that of an uncooked yolk. Add a small ladle of dashi [similar to miso – its ingredients are made up of dried shiitake mushrooms, konbu (dried kelp), niboshi (dried baby sardines), katsuo (dried bonito flakes)] and you basically have egg soup for breakfast. Since the egg is still so soft, it can easily be ‘drunk’ along with the ‘broth’. The mixture goes down rather smoothly and is light despite the fact that you’re basically drinking a chilled broth. Next is something that I just enjoy having at home from time to time. A little bit of tofu can go a long way with the right toppings. For the picture on the left: scallion, garlic, bonito flakes, soy sauce. Yum. At home, we use pretty much the same ingredients with the only addition being preserved duck eggs. An easy dish for a meal, not to mention quick and pretty cheap too. I’m sure that you’ve all had sushi before, so many of you are probably familiar with the sushi topped with a dollop of fish roe. Tasty right? Where each salty little egg just pops pleasantly in your mouth as you bite down, a short burst of flavor following right after…mmm. This was my first time having the pleasure of eating an entire little bowl of fish roe. Quite fun really, just don’t think about how many unborn fishies you’re devouring – it might ruin your appetite. Lastly…holy crap! Do you see the size of those peaches? They’re huge. In fact, they’re bigger than my fist. If you don’t believe me, my hand is right there to testify the truth. These peaches were the most amazing ones I’ve ever had thus far. It wasn’t just their size that made an impression but the taste as well. Sweet and juicy, one bite had you hooked. In fact, Jas even wanted more…and she usually stays away since she’s allergic. Now that’s saying something, huh? Coming back to New...

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Taiwan Street Food: Part 3! (plus my 7-eleven ramble)

Posted by on Sep 9, 2010 in Eating like an Emperor - in Taiwan | 1 comment

Hey guys, sorry I haven’t posted for awhile. With my birthday and school coming up, I haven’t found the time in the past few days. But not to worry! I’m back in the mojo, and would like to start off this post with a great big THANK YOU! to my dearest big sis for putting so much effort for making my birthday special. Not only did she make breakfast and a delicious cake for me, she also blackmailed tons of you guys for your birthday well wishes. (Thanks guys!) I thought I would revisit Taiwan’s awesome street food, as I miss it so much more now that I’m back in New York. First up, I have to point out that the 7-eleven’s here in the US are nothing, NOTHING, compared to the ones in Taiwan. The Seven’s in Taiwan come fully equipped with: ready made food, microwavables, an ATM, a post box, a movie ticket machine, magazines, face wash, ointments…you name it. Man, I miss the Sevens. Here’s a taste of what I got there last: Tea eggs. Although I technically didn’t buy this in the streets, they are sold pretty much everywhere. What I noticed about the ones in Seven are that they are all cooked thoroughly with the delicious tea sauce, allowing the flavor to fully seep through the skin and into the yolk. When they are cracked and easy to break open like this one, you know that it will be a tasty little treasure. Mmmmm. A variety of sandwiches made fresh everyday and packaged to the stores. These come in flavors that usually aren’t found in America. They have more asian flavors, such as shrimp, or egg salad with tuna. The one I had was very satisfying, and the fillings were stuffed to the brim, so no skimping there. Milk! The milk in Taiwan usually has a much sweeter flavor than what we Americans are used to. Since Taiwanese usually prefer sweeter drinks, the milk made in Taiwan usually has sugars added in it, which I don’t particularly like. However, Dr. Milker doesn’t add those sugars, resulting in good, rich, natural milk. Quite a find. Oh, and my friend kept raving to me about this particular brand of pudding made in Taiwan, so I had to try it: Honestly? Not bad, but I can make better pudding than this. =] Alright, now that the 7-Eleven ramble is over, let’s get back to the real street food. My Uncle took us to this little shop one time that was famous for its shi sen soup (large intestine soup with four kinds of grains). I can see why the place is well known, as the soup was good, and they even gave free refills of the soup as long as you didn’t finish all the grains and intestines. The soup was well flavored, with enough wine to keep it from being tasteless. We also had a rice bun, a meat bun, and more importantly, Peanut Milk! Sadly, I forgot to take a picture (gasp!) but I remember it perfectly nevertheless. Being the first time that I’ve tried peanut milk, I automatically assumed it would be thick and goopy with chunks of peanuts. Boy was I wrong. The peanuts are crushed so fine and mixed so well in the milk that it just tastes like peanut flavored milk. Pretty thirst quenching as well. So good that I regret only having half a cup. Here’s another little snack that I enjoy: baby tomatoes stuffed with sour plums. The sweet yet tart chewiness of the plums go amazingly well with...

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Only Seventeen

Posted by on Sep 6, 2010 in Miscellaneous, Recipe | 17 comments

To most of you out there, today’s Labor Day – the holiday that occurs every year on the first Monday of September. However, to the Hwang family September 6th holds another meaning as well. While it may not always occur on a Monday, it usually happens close enough. Today, my baby sister turns seventeen. =] For those of you who attended the birthday bbq yesterday, you already know this. For those of you who couldn’t make it… Happy Birthday Jasmine~! Holidays are meant to be celebrated grandly, and birthdays are no exception. This means pulling out the nifty little trinkets to fancy things up a bit. For breakfast, I attempted to beautify boring old waffles and pancakes with molds…and completely failed with the eggs. With the help of a few purchases that I obtained in Taiwan, I was able to mutilate transform pancakes into unnatural star and heart shapes. The recipe for the batter? I’ll admit it, I cheated and used Aunt Jemima’s instant mix – with an added splash of cinnamon and nutmeg. But hey, Aunt Jemima knows her stuff when it comes to pancakes and waffles! As for the misshapen eggs? I was trying to squish them into star shapes but it turns out that either: the mold I was using was too big or the eggs were too small because the closest thing I got to a star were really round flowers. Yea… Now that I’m done stating my failures, let’s move on to the actual stars that appeared after brunch! Being a tea fanatic (just a little) I had the idea of making cake with tea. I was sure I’d stumbled across sweets like that before but couldn’t remember where and so I turned to Food Network and was rewarded with Tea Cakes with Earl Grey Icing. Mmm, sounds like a winner already. Now to put it to the test. As with all recipes, I tweaked it a bit and since I wasn’t making cupcakes but actual cakes the baking time was quite different as well. The end result? Take a look for yourself and then tell me if you want the recipe or not. ;) Looking good ain’t it? I think so too. So, without further ado, here’s S.S.Munchies’ first recipe from yours truly. Chocolate Cake with Earl Grey Icing Ingredients For the Cupcakes:   3/4 cup semisweet chocolate morsels 2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into pieces 1 cup sugar 3/4 cup all-purpose flour 4 eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla extract For the Icing: 1 cup sugar 4 egg whites 2 bags Earl Grey tea First thing’s first, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Boil some water in a pot and then let it simmer. Mix the chocolate and butter in a glass or ceramic bowl (metal works too but it’ll get hot) and place the bowl over the pot. Make sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the surface of the water! This works as a makeshift double-boiler and the chocolate and butter will melt slowly and evenly. Mix the sugar and flour in a separate bowl. Add the eggs one at a time and soon you should have a creamy batter. Vanilla extract comes last (and I always like adding a little bit extra). Pour the chocolate concoction in and make sure to mix well…and your cake batter is done! I used little individual cake molds but it’s really the same no matter what you decide to bake in. Keep in mind that you should always only fill the pan 3/4 full as it will rise while baking. If you’re not...

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